Parsley is a universal herb – put chopped parsley in all your soups, salads, and pasta, and sauces. You can even add it to your dog food to freshen your pup’s breath!
Sprouts in 2-4 weeks. Harvest from Month 3+ on.
Equivalent of 4+ hours of direct sun [DLI of 12+ mol/m²/day].
Beginner friendly. You’ll sprout, thin, prune, and harvest.
Best Parsley varieties to grow inside
The two major varieties of parsley are the curly-leaf and flat-leaf. The two other varieties, which are not that common and can be used/cooked differently, are the Hamburg and Japanese parsley.
It’s mainly used in salads and for garnishing. It’s usually smaller in size than the rest with controlled growth.
This is the most common variety of parsley used for cooking. It’s stronger, vibrant, and sweeter than the rest.
It’s less common than the other two varieties, and it’s mainly grown for its edible, swollen parsnip-flavored roots that are used as vegetables.
It is used as a seasoning, a potency tonic, and the leaves and roots are cooked as a vegetable while sprouts are eaten in salads.
Best Setup for Parsley Plants You’ll need: Planter:
Ceramic Self Watering Planter (preferred) or pot that is at least 4″ / 1 pint.
At the start: Balanced Blend. This should be equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (with NPK numbers like 10-10-10).
Ongoing: Herb Blend. This should be high in nitrogen (with NPK numbers like 10-5-5).
A strong grow light that can give the equivalent of 4+ hours of direct sun [DLI of 12+ mol/m²/day].
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Preparing your Planter & Watering Schedule for Parsley
Parsley plants do well in moist soil conditions. If the soil dries out completely the roots will die back and it will be tough for the plant to recover. On the other hand, if the roots are exposed to standing water for too long, they can rot.
A Ceramic Self Watering Planter filled with a standard potting mix self-regulates to keep the soil at consistent moisture for your plant to thrive (and no watering guesswork for you).
To set one up:
Fill up the planter with dry soil from the bag, gently tamping down the top. Dump the soil into a large mixing bowl and add water until the soil is moist, but not sopping wet (about ½ Cup) Mix in 1 tablespoon of the Balanced Blend Plant Food.
If you are using a regular pot instead, it should be a little bit bigger (at least 4″ / 1 pint and will need drainage holes to prevent it from being over watered. Let the top of the soil dry out between watering.
Starting your Parsley: Seed vs Cutting vs Nursery Plant
New Parsley plants can be started from seed, propagated from an established plant, or purchased live at many garden centers. We prefer to sprout from seed or propagate from a stem cutting, as it results in plants that are adapted to your growing conditions and limit the chances that you accidentally bring home pests.)
How to Plant Parsley seeds
Parsley grows quickly from seed. Plant 1 site in a 4″ / 1-pint container. In larger containers, space sites 4″ apart. For each site plant 2 seeds 1/4 inches deep. Keep the soil warm ( 40-90°F, ideally 70°F). Sprouts typically appear in 14 days but can be as quick as 7 days or as long as 21 days depending on your conditions. To speed things up, you can soak them in water for 12-24 hours before planting.
To speed things up, you can soak them in water for 12-24 hours before planting.
Propagating Parsley: How to Clone from a Stem Cutting
If you’ve already got a Parsley plant you love (or a friend does!) you can easily “clone” it with just sharp scissors and a clean glass of water. First, cut a couple 6” shoots of new growth (avoid anything woody). Next, remove the lower leaves, so the bottom half is just stem. Place in a glass of 3” of water, making sure the cut leaf spots are underwater. Place the glass on a bright windowsill and change the water every few days. In a couple of weeks, roots should emerge and you can transplant them into your container. While using additional rooting hormones won’t hurt, it’s not necessary with Parsley plants.
Cut 6” section of new growth Remove leaves halfway and place them in the water on a sunny window sill Wait 7-14 days for a few ½ inch roots to form and carefully transplant into it final container How to Transplant Parsley
Live starter plants give you a big jump start on your first harvest. When you’re in a garden center – pick the bushiest plant available (tall and lanky ones will be weak growers) and give it a good inspection for pests. Leaves should be dark green without holes, spots, or curled edges. A best practice is to actually “quarantine” your plant for about a week after bringing it home to make sure it’s free and clear of ride-on pests.
Ensuring it’s pest and disease-free it’s time to transplant your seedling into its final home.
Remove some soil from its final planter – leaving enough space for the bottom of the seedling to be just higher than the soil surface. Hold on to the base of the stem with one hand, and turn the pot over while gently pulling the seedling. Giving the pot a few squeezes can help dislodge it. Place in its final container and fill around it with soil so that it’s tight, but not compacted. Where to grow your Parsley plants
Out of all edible plants, Parsley plants have some of the lowest light needs – but they still need to be in a very bright place that gets at least 4+ hours of direct sunshine. While you might be lucky enough to have a bright windowsill that works, most of us need to use a grow light (especially during the winter). For an introduction to grow lights, head over to our post on grow lights for indoor gardeners. We’ve also got a buying guide for screw in types, but to keep things simple in this guide, we’ll just provide directions for the 24W Screw in Bulb by Sansi, which we think is a good middle-of-the-road option.
How bright should your grow light be?
Parsley plants need the equivalent of 4+ hours of direct sunlight [DLI of 12+ mol/m²/day] to grow their best. In order to provide an equivalent amount with a grow light, it needs to be pretty bright! The 24W Sansi bulb should be placed 6 inches away from the top of the plant. This will give your PPFD (the standard measure of brightness) of 500 μmol/m²/s.
How many hours per day do your Parsley plants need under a grow light?
Parsley plants are known as “long-day”. When they sense over 12 hours of light per day, they’ll start the end of their lifecycle and work on making seeds. We want to keep them in an earlier stage so we can keep harvesting the leaves, so we recommend setting up a timer to leave it on for only 8 hours per day.
Extend your harvest by keeping the Temperatures Cool
Parsley is known as a “cool weather crop.” If it senses warming temperatures it will “bolt” – send up flowers and become bitter in the process. Where you plant them can have some effect on the temperature – lower positions on a growing rack and ceramic planters tend to run cooler. It’s best to avoid windows that get really hot (like bay windows)
Week 2-4: Check for Sprouts
You could see seedlings in as little as 7 days (though 14 days is more typical). If it’s been 21 days and you still don’t have any sprouts, it’s likely that your setup is too cold.
Week 4: Thin Your Seedlings
Thin your planter to only have 1 seedling per site – leaving the largest plant. If you are using the reccomended planter (at least 4″ / 1 pint) this will mean you’ve got 1 plant after thinning. By getting rid of the smaller seedlings, you’re allowing the biggest and strongest one to flourish by reducing its competition for water, food, and space.
If your seedlings are under 1 inch, stretching out, or folding over, it’s likely that they don’t have quite enough light.
Week 5: How to Prune Parsley
You’ll notice how all the stems and leaves of Parsley grow from a single, central point (called radial growth). The plant puts out new leaves in the center and pushes old leaves outward, getting bigger and bushier over time.
Pruning and harvesting are one-in-the-same with Parsley. Once the plant at least 3 separate stems coming from the base take one of the outside leaves and cut it close to the base (½” above is fine). It’s good to leave at least 2/3rds of the plant left to regrow. If you only want a tiny amount of herbs, you also can clip the top of an individual stem – just be sure to leave some leaves on that stem, otherwise it won’t grow back.
Month 3+: How to Harvest Parsley
Wait until the bottom leaves have at least 3 segments to harvest and always harvest the outer leaves, leaving the inner ones to mature.
Month 6+: End of Life
Parsley is a biennial plant which means it naturally sets seed when it experiences hot summer temperatures.
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The right supplies can take the guesswork out of caring for your plants – and turn care from a daily to weekly routine. Through our grow tests, we’ve found these products to produce the best indoor Parsley (and also have simple maintenance). Plants are adaptable and can grow in many different conditions, so they are by no means necessary if you already have other supplies.
Best Containers for Parsley: Ceramic Self Watering Planters
Plants thrive on consistent moisture but can suffer if they’re waterlogged. A semi-porous ceramic self regulates ideal conditions. Our favorite is the COSWIP planter. Runner up is XS Self Watering Planter by Wet Pot.
Best Soil for Parsley: Free Draining Mix
Parsley needs a drier environment – so you are better off using a free-draining cactus potting mix – we like this Organic Mix by Espoma.
Best Nutrients for Parsley: Balanced Blend followed by Herb & Lettuce Blend
Parsley likes to start with nutrients that are equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (with NPK numbers like 10-10-10). For this Balanced Blend we recommend: Dr Earth All Purpose
Once they are growing, it’s better to use plant food that is high in nitrogen (with NPK numbers like 10-5-5). For this Herb Blend, we recommend: Joyful Dirt All Purpose
Best Light for Parsley: DIY or Soltech
There is a very small chance that you have the bright windows needed to grow these without a grow light. If you are looking for a higher-end option – we love the Aspect Light by Soltech. For a more affordable option, a DIY setup using a 24W Screw-in Bulb by Sansi with a Clamp Light and Mechanical Timer works well too. Check out our complete guide on a DIY setup for less than $40 or our buying guide for screw in bulbs.